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It’s the waiting that gets us

Following on from yesterday’s post, I want to briefly discuss¬†waiting.

Like watching the clock from 2.45pm onwards on a Friday, or for that email about an interview that never comes, or for opportunity…

Waiting is part and parcel of innovation, or life choices, or, for that matter, any number of things to be “just right”.

I have news for you: it’s never, ever (or at least exceptionally rarely) “just right”.

Waiting IS necessary, but when waiting turns to frustration, I mean knuckle biting, table slamming frustration, it’s no longer waiting: it’s procrastinating.

I’m as guilty of this as the next person, but try not to let it get that far. Always have a plan B. Even if plan B means giving up on plan A.

Life is simply too short to wait forever, and certainly, if you want to achieve things, too short to wait too long. I’m not advocating that you give up quickly, or become “Mr” (or “Miss”) Pushy. I do strongly advocate putting deadlines on things. I for one can tell you that if you expect to see progress in your projects, life, hell just your day-to-day job, you need to be ruthless in planning AND execution. Waiting around accomplishes neither of these.

I’ve been waiting a lot lately in just the way I have suggested not doing so. I’ve set the deadline as of the end of business today. I’ll discuss how that worked out for me in my next post.

 

Image Credit: Clock by David Stokes on Flickr. Used under creative commons with attribution license. Copyright © David Stokes, some rights reserved.

Change

Most of us don’t like change, it takes us away from where we are most comfortable, to places that are strange, new, sometimes exciting, but quite often with a nervous feel in the pit of our stomach. Not necessarily in bad way, but still, often better the beast you know, right?

However, when you think about it, we live in a world of change. Our “jobs for life” culture has all but gone, and we are often changing the place we live, as life events dictate our needs for more (or less) space, or a job offer too good to miss means we move country, or county, or town. Or in these sometimes darker times, we might just need to move to get a job, any job.

Change, however, is also the driver of innovation – not just in business, but in us. Startups are told to find their way by following an initial path, then pivoting if that’s not working, and managing that pivot in direction well, to help them move to the next stage of their evolution. With us, as people, we often do the same; sometimes by choice, sometimes by circumstance.

It’s possible to become complacent when we settle too long, to end up making compromises, either in our work or in our personal lives (or both), as we fight change. Organisations do this too.

Fighting change, actually finding excuses, or stomping on innovation seems to be built into our cultures. If we have crazy ideas at work, they will usually get squished before they actually happen, no matter how many people back the idea – at least initially – because upsetting the status quo makes us outliers, and very few organisations on the planet are actually comfortable with outliers.

You see, you can’t put processes in place to be innovative – at least not long-term successful ones, you or your organisation either are innovative, or not. You can’t MAKE people outliers, or innovators, the same as you can’t fight the inertia of organisations and their opposition to change.

What you can do, is just make it happen. Sometimes overtly, sometime under-the-radar. But making it happen is the most important part.

And you WILL be called “mad”. You WILL be called “a trouble maker”. And you WILL enjoy every bloody moment of it, because, if you have the drive to make and survive change, it’s actually what you were designed to do.

Sure, safe is best – until it drives you nuts, or makes you give up on your career or personal life or whatever it is you end up doing instead of doing what you were meant to do.

Which brings me to why I am talking about this at all.

It’s time for a change in my life too.

I moved to Denmark some years ago with the intention of helping make change at a very good friend’s company – initially to help make their security software division more successful. But inertia sits in all companies, big and small, and change proved to be harder to achieve than one would have thought. A pivot in that process found me looking after new products, supervising different aspects of the business, doing things that, while I am good at (some would argue very good), it’s not what I wanted to be doing.

And then more than three years has gone by. Time truly does fly.

I think it was Steve Jobs (though I’m too lazy to look it up) said something along the lines of (and I’m paraphrasing) If you have too many days when you look in the mirror and looking back at you is someone who’s not doing what they love, then it’s time for change.

I’ve been looking in the mirror of late and it’s time for change.

Right now I’m trying, with all of my heart to get a special project off of the ground that involves what I’m good at: security software. It’s still looking a bit 50:50 right now, despite months of negotiation; but remember what I said about change – wherever you try to instigate it, someone, or something will always try to fight it. And it’s not personal (usually), it’s built-in to us, no one likes the apple cart to be upset. So the back-up plan will be to pivot and do it a different way (more details will be forthcoming over the coming weeks and months), but that change is coming anyway.

It’s our job to fight back, and do it anyway, because, at the end of the day, that’s why we’re here.

And yes, I’m feeling uncomfortable. And yes, half scared to death. And yes, it keeps me up at nights. But, do you know what, I want, need even, to do it anyway. That’s how I know it’s time for change.

It’s going to be a wild ride, of that I am sure. I’ll tell you about it sometime.

Image Credit: Change, by Sean MacEntee (smemon) on Flickr, used under creative commons license.

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